The car park and promenade at Hill Head beach are currently closed, we spoke to the engineers to find out more about what is going on.
Beach levels have fallen at Hill Head since 2012 exposing the seawalls to additional wave action. Records show that storm frequency is increasing with 18 storms in the last 3 years. This is likely to continue and is contributing to beach erosion and seawall deterioration. As a result the seawall has reached the end of its serviceable life and is unable to withstand this increased wave action, failing regularly, leading to expensive repairs.
The Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership (ESCP) are carrying out major engineering works at Hill Head to resolve this. This will widen the promenade by approximately 1.5 meters (5 feet), improving public access along the frontage and will straighten out the “kink” in the promenade, a known weak spot. It will provide an increased wall height by 0.6m (2 feet) which will address the issue of the promenade becoming impassable in previous storms.
We are pleased to say the ESCP are “bird aware” and they consider the environment at every stage of coastal management, from developing coastal policy within strategies and plans, to carrying out works on the ground. The foreshore is of great value to wildlife and as such is designated RAMSAR, Special Protection Area, Site of Special Scientific Interest. The foreshore is an important site for wading and waterfowl birds and is a key characteristic of the local environment.
Rare species of bird visit this coastline as they migrate across Europe and internationally. They rely on the coastal environment at Hill Head to feed and rest during their lengthy seasonal migrations. Therefore the construction period has been limited, with works only permitted between the 1st April and the 30th September to avoid disturbance to overwintering birds. Construction works within the designated boundary are heavily constrained and those directly adjacent have had a full assessment to identify impacts / mitigation. The scheme has ensured there is no overall loss of wildlife habitat.